Jodie Turner-Smith addresses reaction to being cast as Anne Boleyn: ‘Might be a stretch’

Anne Boleyn: Jodie Turner-Smith stars in Channel 5 trailer

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Channel 5 caused quite a stir after they announced UK actress Jodie Turner-Smith, who is born to Jamaican parents, will be portraying Queen Anne Boleyn in their latest dramatisation that turns traditional history into a modern thriller. But not only is the adaptation a brand new take, the broadcaster has opted for what they refer to as “identity-conscious casting”, choosing actors and actresses who match the energy and personality of the characters they will play rather than their physical appearance.

I am aware it’s going to be a stretch for some people because they will feel too distracted by that

Jodie Turner-Smith

But Turner-Smith, who is best known for starring opposite Daniel Kaluuya in the film Queen & Slim, wasn’t surprised that her appointment to play the Queen who survived Henry VIII’s wrath, attracted backlash.

In a new interview she addressed the reaction she had received, noting she is aware it might be a stretch for some people to come to terms with.

“It’s much more approachable and appealing to a contemporary audience when you cast this way because we are distilling this down to a human experience,” she said.

“If you ask anyone to watch a film or to observe any art, you are asking them to suspend their beliefs.

“I am aware it’s going to be a stretch for some people because they will feel too distracted by that, but I think for a lot of other people who are finally ready to see the world in a different way, they’re going to see that this is a human story we are telling, and a fascinating one at that.”

Actor Paapa Essiedu, known for I May Destroy You, has been casted as Anne’s brother George.

Weighing in on the matter, he also told Radio Times: “Everyone has the right to comment.

“But I would question anyone who’s got a problem with this but hasn’t got one with believing that a space-ship can fly in Star Wars or that a giant bird can talk in Sesame Street.”

Speaking about her decision to take on the role of Anne, the actress continued: “It feels like a modern concept.

“Before I met my husband [The Affair star Joshua Jackson, with whom she has a one-year-old baby, Janie], some of the men I dated would love what they saw but the minute we got together, the thing they loved was the very thing they wanted to stamp out.

“I think that’s the mark of any powerful woman: the male ego can be quite fragile.”

She added: “They love how outspoken you are and suddenly it’s, ‘You’re speaking too much.’”

In a separate interview, Turner-Smith revealed to Glamour UK why being a mother herself drew her to the character.

“I had just become a mother and that was what really jumped out at me, the story of Anne as a mother,” she told the publication.

“I did know it would be something that people felt very passionately about, either in a positive or a negative way, because Anne is a human in history who people feel very strongly about.

“More than anything, I wanted to tell the human story at the centre of all of this.”

Turner-Smith’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.

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